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Think TV: A Photographer's History of Black Fort Worth

by Jerome Weeks 9 Nov 2009 5:35 PM

When Calvin Littlejohn came to Fort Worth in 1934, white newspapers wouldn’t run photos of African-Americans. Ironically, segregation gave Littlejohn his life’s work: chronicling Fort Worth’s middle-class black community. Bob Ray Sanders, author of a new book on Littlejohn, talks to Krys Boyd about growing up in Jim Crow North Texas.


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When Calvin Littlejohn came to Fort Worth in 1934, North Texas was still Jim Crow country. Newspapers wouldn’t print photos of African-Americans — unless, says Bob Ray Sanders, they’d murdered a white man or raped a white woman. Yet such segregation proved to be something of an opportunity for Littlejohn: He became the unofficial chronicler of black, middle-class Fort Worth life. The high school graduations and football games, the funerals, weddings and barbershops: Everything the mainstream media neglected, Littlejohn documented until his death in 1993.

Journalist Bob Ray Sanders — columnist for the Fort  Worth Star-Telegram and frequent visitor to KERA — has written Calvin Littlejohn: Portrait of a Community in Black and White, which features more than 150 photos by Littlejohn. Sanders spoke to Krys Boyd about his lifelong friend, about growing up in segregated Fort Worth, about how Littlejohn came to pick up a camera.